Creating a Culture of Innovation? 3 Mistakes to Avoid

CoachHub · 13 June 2022 · 3 min read

Most organizations no longer have the luxury of choosing not to make innovation a part of their culture. The past several years have strongly impacted the way we work and the global marketplace. In order to survive, organizations have had to find ways to continuously adapt. Creating a culture of innovation is necessary to survive and thrive in today’s world.

Not only must executives strive to create more creative cultures, they are finding they must do this under increased pressure and with fewer resources. They’re also grappling with how to inspire innovation in a remote or hybrid environment.

Mistake 1: Not focusing on skills employees need now

As you challenge your organization to grow, your employees — especially those in leadership positions — are increasingly going to face challenges with no obvious solutions. Reaching new organizational goals Our world is becoming more complex and interconnected, which requires employees to process a vast amount of information, learn new technologies, perfect techniques and develop best practices at a breakneck pace. This is what innovation requires. In order to rise to the needs of today, employees need the following skills:

  • Vision to respond to volatility
  • Understanding to respond to inherent uncertainty
  • The ability to create clarity out of complexity
  • Agility to face ambiguity and thrive

It’s unlikely old school manuals and training programs are equipped to help your employees develop the strong set of behavioral and technical skills necessary to thrive — a new approach is needed to be appropriately innovative.

Mistake 2: Ignoring diversity and inclusion

Diversity is a crucial component for creating a culture of inclusion in an organization — and it takes more than slick messaging to achieve it. It also takes more than recruiting employees to check an “inclusion” box. Forrester data shows 63% of Chief Diversity Officers were appointed in the last three years. But not all companies treat their CDOs the same. While some have budgets to build their departments, others have limited roles and have merely experienced a title change. Real change is needed — change that starts on an individual level.

Here’s what companies seeking to execute on their good intentions can focus on doing:

  • Provide one-on-one support to all individuals.
  • Create a culture of connectedness, agency and psychological safety.
  • Create a climate of inclusion by interacting with others in accordance to one’s true nature, and encourage, embrace, and celebrate everyone’s unique strengths and differences.
  • Encourage employees to develop critical thinking, the means of challenging assumed realities and the way things are done. This is the ability to constructively question the status quo.

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Mistake 3: Not establishing a shared purpose

Motivate your innovators to act on goals bigger than their own interests. A big picture vision — one that ignites the whole team — adds purpose behind your need to innovate. Forrester’s research into innovation during the pandemic showed this as the top principle that helped innovative companies thrive.

Establishing a shared purpose is easier said than done. Sure, “all hands” meetings and stand ups are useful opportunities to convey your organization’s purpose to the wider group. But, purpose must be repeated and instilled on an individual level, not just in a group setting. One major pitfall companies looking to innovate encounter is allowing your purpose to function as a trite tag line instead of an internalized goal of each employee.

Bottom line

A lot of companies want a culture of innovation — but only a few are willing to put in the work to achieve it. Innovation is a group goal, but the processes that create it are individual. Change must occur on both sides of the spectrum in order for a true culture of innovation to flourish.

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